Talks Resume Friday on St. Charles Bar Hours
Bar owners, St. Charles officials hope to nail down details on a solution to street brawls and over-serving of alcohol before the City Council meets as the Government Services Committee on Monday.
St. Charles officials and local bar and restaurant owners hope to present the City Council with a proposal they hope will end much of the brawling and troubles with “extremely intoxicated” individuals after midnight in the downtown area.
City officials and liquor license holders already have met one to review the problem that prompted Mayor Donald DeWitte, the city liquor commissioner, to propose the city cut back bar hours from a 2 a.m. closing time to 1 a.m. He made the proposal after a spike in brawls involving “extremely intoxicated individuals,” including at least one in which a police officer was assaulted but not seriously injured.
His proposal, which the City Council was to vote on Sept. 4, brought out many bar and restaurant owners to that meeting. Through their attorney, Russ Whitaker of Naperville, they pleaded with the council for time to hash out the issues and seek a joint solution with the city. The council tabled the ordinance that would cut back bar hours.
“We have a second meeting scheduled this Friday (Sept. 21),” Mayor DeWitte wrote in an email Thursday to St. Charles Patch. “Our preliminary meeting was an opportunity for the owners and the city to air their issues and potential solution recommendations.
“The purpose of the next meeting is to start finalizing those suggestions,” DeWitte wrote. “We will have more to talk about after Friday's meeting, and those issues will be presented on Monday evening to the council committee.”
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During the Sept. 4 City Council meeting, Whitaker had begged the council for “dialogue,” saying it was apparent that different bar and restaurant owners had different understandings of some of the concerns the city raised during a meeting in May. He also said the 11 clients he represented wanted to form an association to work toward alleviating the concerns DeWitte aired before the council in August.
Patch reported Wednesday that some downtown liquor license holders are taking the issue seriously enough that they reported a competitor to police after hearing from their own customers about some illegal activity at the Alibi, 12 N. 3rd St.
Officers cited Alibi liquor license holder Richard A. Simpson Jr., 33, of Downers Grove, with serving free drinks for commercial purposes, and with advertising that illegal activity, according to police reports.
The two chief concerns DeWitte and others on the City Council have voiced — over-serving alcohol to patrons, and drunken brawls — go hand in hand. Many street fights police are called to involve drunken individuals. During the weekend in early August that DeWitte cited to the council, many of the brawlers were described by police as being “extremely intoxicated.”
That same label was used by police in describing a number of similar brawls that occurred over the Labor Day weekend leading up to the Sept. 4 City Council meeting. Those reports, however, were not released by police until after the council met and had tabled the proposal to reduce bar hours.